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It is that time of year when offers of university places start to drop into electronic mailboxes around the world. Higher education is big business now, places at UK universities are some of the most sought after in the world. These institutions will often charge overseas student annual fees of well over £25,000, so for the parents, ensuring the success of the academic investment is as significant as it is for a company sending key employees abroad.

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According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, in 2015, 436,585 overseas students came to study in the UK. The number of Chinese students far exceeds any other nationality at 89,540, whilst Indian students are the next largest group with 18,320.

Parents can learn some valuable lessons from the corporate world’s experience of overseas placements, starting with why international private health insurance is so important. While social, emotional and cultural factors are likely to be of central importance in determining the success or failure of an academic placement, access to comprehensive international medical insurance is increasingly becoming a key factor for many overseas students. With a demanding academic workload, it can be vitally important to ensure that the student overseas feels well protected when medical treatment is required. The individual must know their medical insurance is there when needed and that they will have access to private hospitals where treatment can be obtained quickly. This in turn speeds up recovery, so absence from study is minimised.

Joe Thomas, April International UK’s Business Development Director observes that, “Whilst most universities will ensure overseas students do have access to emergency and local care, in some cases, it can be quite basic. Today’s overseas students, with a significant family financial investment hanging over them, will often need more than this. This is why policies that offer private care and fast access to first class treatment, such as those offered by APRIL International are now so popular in countries like the UK, where high concentrations of foreign students are located.”

For the insured student, the most important factors are always the speed of access to care and the depth and breadth of the benefit schedules. Put another way, the policy should be easy to use, offer good support and ensure medical bills are reimbursed quickly. Whilst access to local state systems is usually possible, issues such as waiting times and the speed of recovery will be more important to a student paying significant fees.

Whilst many parents will think their 18 year old is in the peak of health and unlikely to suffer serious illness, research carried out amongst hospitals may serve as a timely reminder that there are plenty of reasons why an 18 year old could end up in a hospital ward.

Not all of these can be covered by insurance – the more obvious self-inflicted risks such as drink and drug related issues are not usually covered. However, many of the other common causes of hospitalisation can be insured against.

A common reason for a trip to A&E is sports injuries – anything from a sprained ankle to a more serious breakage. But these kinds of injuries can also extend to normal everyday accidents resulting from over exuberant behaviour.

More troubling for a parent is the incidence of mental illness – without the support of a close knit family and under significant academic pressure, some students will be unfortunate enough to experience serious mental illnesses which will require specialist treatment. This kind of issue is most likely to occur around exam time, especially finals, so it is vital it is treated quickly and effectively.

Finally, for the young person who may have grown up with a chronic condition, asthma perhaps, but who up until now, has relied upon their parents to ensure medication is taken, many distractions are now available which can and do result in medication not being taken sufficiently regularly, which can trigger a relapse of the chronic condition. APRIL International UK offers a range of standout added value benefits on all policies taken out including Best Doctors, red24 services and The Blood Care Foundation. Best Doctors gives clients access to a free second professional medical opinion, whilst red24 offers clients complimentary access to their extensive global travel and risk management services.

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